HARBERT — Chikaming Township Planning Commission members were shown a final concept of streetscape design plans for the Harbert Community Park area by Eric Neagu of the Antero Group and Michelle Kelly of Upland Design during their Nov. 3 regular meeting.

“We are super-excited about how the community was able to really pick something that I think fits Harbert well,” Kelly said during the presentation.

Neagu said a public meeting was held in September at the park in beautiful weather.

About 60 people participated in the Sept. 15 “design charette” session held in the Harbert Community Park pavilion, reviewing three different concepts for amenities such as seating, walkways, signage and lighting in the park and along the new non-motorized trail (or linear park) currently taking shape across Red Arrow Highway.

“The intention here is to create a theme that’s independent and different from Union Pier, different from Lakeside, different from Sawyer, but has some kind of continuous elements to it,” he said on Nov. 3.

Neagu said there were 66 survey responses (both in person on Sept. 15 and online) in which elements of the design concepts were ranked.

“We kind of distilled that into a final concept,” he said.

Kelly presented visual depictions of the final design elements which she said were for the most part included in “Concept A” on Sept. 15, along with some parts of the B and C concepts such as landscaping and litter receptacles.

“As designers when we reviewed them all, this had a very good fit … We picked from what people gave us input on,” Kelly said.

Highlights mentioned by Kelly include outdoor site furniture with a wood-feel and metal frames, “subtle” light fixtures that take into account requests to keep the light level low, and way-finding, interpretive and informational signs.Two similar oak leaf-themed signage options were presented to planners as well, with the main difference being angled or flat tops. Later shown were plant palettes including grasses, native perennials, redbuds and evergreens.

“The intention here is to create a theme that’s independent and different from Union Pier, different from Lakeside, different from Sawyer, but has some kind of continuous elements to it,” Neagu said.

During discussion with planners about the size and content of signs, Neagu said “we wanted to … create an experience throughout the community rather than just street furniture.”

Neagu said he is looking to collaborate with local businesses and make sure the streetscape fits in with what the Planning Commission is doing. He added that the project also is being planned in collaboration with volunteers and Park Board members who are in the process of making changes to Harbert Community Park including the addition of a “Meadow” stage and walking paths.

“It’s exciting, we’re hopeful that this can be implemented next year,” he said, later noting that it all doesn’t have to be done at once.

Neagu said the next phase of the project is already under way – actively seeking funding for implementation.

He also noted that the “final concept” is still up for conversation and feedback until it’s constructed – “and we’re looking for feedback.”

Planning Commission Chair John Chipman said a group of five or six people including a landscape designer, a forester, an architect and himself have been involved in the process. He said they are working with the Park Board to integrate its plans with the streetscape design.

Chipman also suggested establishing a trailhead facility created between the park and Township Center building.

Jill Underhill of the Park Board said she feels the design elements presented at the Nov. 3 meeting “will mesh really well with the Harbert Community Park, which we consider will soon really be the crown jewel of Chikaming.”

During the Sept. 15 design charette gathering, Neagu said the project will primarily be developed on the Harbert Community Park side of Red Arrow Highway with some crosswalks to sites like Harbert Swedish Bakery and stand-alone design “nodes” (points where pedestrian-related amenities are grouped), along with possible lighting on the other side to create some balance. It is expected to stretch from the north end of Harbert Community Park to Harbert Road (maybe as far south as the Post Office).

In another Nov. 3 Chikaming Township Planning Commission matter, the commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a site plan for an addition to the SO Stockholm Objects commercial building at 13630 Red Arrow Highway in Harbert. Co-owner Reinhard Brinkmeier said the proposed addition would expand the 1,200 square feet store’s footprint by 600 square feet while offering shoppers “a nicer experience.”

At the beginning of the Nov. 3 meeting, Chipman said the proposed Union Green development in Union Pier may be back on the agenda at either the December or January Planning Commission meeting.

“When we do get their impact statement we will make it available to the public,” he said.

And a request from Dan Coffey to have standards in the Zoning Ordinance waived for a backlighted sign at the RE/MAX Harbor Country office, 5888 Sawyer Road, Sawyer, was tabled after some discussion, including suggestions from planners that the sign my not need to be lighted to be effective.

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